Grading the Game: Lions

An overtime loss featured some terrible play at certain positions and average play by other units. We take a unit-by-unit breakdown of the 20-17 loss in Detroit.

PASSING OFFENSE: D — Why such a low grade? Just take a look at Tarvaris Jackson's statistics: 17 of 33 for 166 yards with no touchdowns, four interceptions and a dismal 26.4 rating. At this point, the Vikings are asking Jackson to do nothing more than manage the game. He didn't come close to doing the job efficiently on Sunday afternoon. The Lions ended up generating 14 points off Jackson's four interceptions. Bobby Wade led the Vikings with five catches for 34 yards, but Jackson still doesn't seem to be developing any consistent rhythm with his receivers.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus — With Chester Taylor sitting because of a hip injury, Adrian Peterson carried most of the load. He rushed for 66 yards on 20 carries and also caught four passes for 52 yards out of the backfield. It's clear there remains some concern about Peterson's ability in pass protection. Mewelde Moore, a surprise member of the inactive list in Week 1, made his 2007 regular-season debut at Ford Field and rushed six times for 50 yards, while catching four passes for 36 yards. Taylor likely will return Sunday against Kansas City but it won't be surprising if Peterson continues to get the majority of the carries. This kid could help the Vikings achieve a high grade in this category for years to come.

PASS DEFENSE: C — Shades of the 2006 season. The Lions and offensive coordinator Mike Martz spread out the Vikings, opening the game with a steady diet of no-huddle, shotgun looks that featured receivers all over the place. This stopped when Jon Kitna left the game in the second quarter because of injury and was replaced by the seldom-used J.T. O'Sullivan. Kitna, however, eventually did return and helped spark the Lions to victory. Detroit's two quarterbacks passed for 393 yards, completing 35 of 56 passes, and two touchdowns. But the Vikings also got four sacks — the pressure seemed to intensify in the second half — and intercepted three passes (two by safety Darren Sharper and one by safety Dwight Smith). Rookie Marcus McCauley got a good test as the Vikings spent much of the time in the nickel defense. McCauley tied Sharper and Smith for the team lead with two passes broken up.

RUSH DEFENSE: B — Shades of the 2006 season — and we mean this one in a good way. After giving up 96 rushing yards to the Falcons in Week 1, the Lions were held to 56 yards on the ground. Their longest run was a 17-yarder by Brian Calhoun that set up the winning field goal in overtime. Defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams continue to make it very difficult for any team to gain yards. Both Pro Bowl players made big plays Sunday, with Kevin Williams forcing a fumble by Lions quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan that end Ray Edwards picked up and ran nine yards with for a touchdown. Pat Williams had a sack, a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup. It will be interesting to see how often the Chiefs try to run Larry Johnson against this unit.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus — This grade would have been higher except for Ryan Longwell's 52-yard field-goal attempt late in the fourth quarter that hit the left upright. The Vikings did not give up any significant returns on special teams but did have two big kickoff returns themselves. Troy Williamson went 56 yards with a second-quarter run-back to set up the Vikings' first touchdown and rookie Aundrae Allison went 60 yards with a third-quarter return to set up a Longwell field goal that cut Detroit's lead to seven. Williamson did not return kicks in the second half because he left the game due to a hamstring spasm. Punter Chris Kluwe had a second consecutive strong game, averaging 52.7 yards gross and 42.8 yards net on four punts.

COACHING: C — Considering how easily Peterson seems to be able to run over defenders, it was somewhat curious that the Vikings did not keep him on the field more on third down and simply run the ball. One prime example came on the Vikings' first possession of the opening quarter, when Tarvaris Jackson threw a pass on third-and-one that was intercepted. This would have seemed like the ideal time to give it to Peterson and just have him barge straight ahead. The offensive staff also must shoulder some of the blame for Jackson's struggles Sunday, considering they are the ones who decided it was best to go with a young quarterback and hope he can learn quickly. The defensive staff isn't going to be satisfied with giving up 415 total yards or 359 net passing yards but four sacks, three interceptions and five forced turnovers isn't a terrible day either.

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